The role of empirical evidence in interdisciplinary research
in Versus n. 122, Empirical Research in Semiotics, pp.57-70
The aim of this essay is to show how empirical evidence is used in a specific
interdisciplinary research where Semiotics plays a key role. This research focuses on the way people represent their own places of origin, both visually and linguistically. The collected materials are examined from different points of view: a semiotic one, which studies how each person reconstructs a complex image of his/her childhood place, and the translation from one language to another (e.g. from drawing to verbal story); a cognitive-psychological point of view, which sheds light on the emotional world of the interviewees; a geographical point of view as far as the cartographic models which inspire the drawings of maps are
concerned. We will see that the researcher is led by preliminary questions and hypothesis but the data collection is equally necessary and essential. The final epistemological point does not consist in the exclusion of empirical data but in the exclusion of empirical preconceptions which could negatively influence the analysis of the texts, keeping any (potential?) new evidence out of sight.